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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Was Michael Zehaf-Bibeau a terrorist? Yes (but you don’t get to decide)

The attacks in Ottawa on October 22, 2014, by Muslim-convert Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, in which he killed an unarmed honour guard at the War Memorial and then stormed parliament, have been called “terrorist” by the RCMP, the government and, depending on weather conditions, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
Thomas Mulcair: soft on "terror"? (Source: CBC)

However. Tom Mulcair, leader of the official oppositions, has stated categorically that “When we look at the individual...we are not in the presence of a terrorist act in the sense that we understand it.” 

In Mulcair’s view, Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, who suffered from mental illness and drug addiction, and repeatedly sought help, had committed an uncommon and horrific crime, but not a terrorist act.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Jian Ghomeshi on track to be Canada’s Pee-wee Herman

After recent allegations of abusive sexual conduct, and the loss of his job as host of CBC Radio’s Q, Jian Ghomeshi’s career as a media personality in Canada is likely over.
Together in the wilderness?

Ghomeshi got out ahead of the game, defending his actions on a Facebook post saying that the behaviour was always consensual, with the attacks against him being orchestrated by a “jilted lover” and an over-zealous journalist. 

It was a shot across the bow but, without anything else in his arsenal, that cannonball may simply sink, forgotten, to the bottom of the ocean.  The same can be said for his $55 million legal action against the CBC, which is essentially a nuisance suit.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bennett's decision to use Mayor’s office for campaign purposes “carefully reviewed according to the City’s guidelines”

Being an incumbent has its privileges, but Mayor Bennett may have taken his too far.

His most recent campaign photo has him in his office at City Hall. The image has been widely disseminated by his campaign, via both traditional and social media.
Bad judgement...again?

To some observers, this would seem to contravene Peterborough’s Municipal Election Procedures (EL 470), which states that “Election campaigning or the distribution/posting of election campaign material at municipally owned or leased facilities is not permitted.”

Some might consider the photo a form of campaigning. It certainly indicates the Mayor's willingness to use his privilege, and taxpayer-funded public assets, to his advantage.

However, Mayor Bennett, addressing concerns on Twitter, said that the decision to use the Mayor’s office was “carefully reviewed according to the City’s guidelines,” though as of this writing Mayor Bennett has failed to clarify who conducted the review. Was it done by his own campaign, a third party, or city staff? La politica has contacted the City to find out, and will keep you posted.

At least Bennett is not claiming ignorance of the issue. After all, the City has made it clear that "Incumbents are aware of a restriction on the use of City resources for campaign purposes."

Friday, 24 October 2014

For mayor of Peterborough, do we vote for a rising star, or a setting sun?

Peterborough This Week recently ran an opinion piece titled “What Peterborough needs in its next mayor”. The local news outlet, which is owned by Torstar Corporation, matched up what it considered to be the skills needed to do the job, as well as the various contenders.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mayor Bennett took top honours due to his “successful leadership roles within the community” and his ability to “make tough choices”. Maryam Monsef, lacking experience managing large groups, “oversimplifies the  job” and is “in over her head” – a pejorative talking point familiar to those who have heard the federal Conservative attack ads against Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau. Patti Peeters is “not a team player” and “lacks diplomacy” (as opposed to Mr. Bennett, one assumes). Alan Wilson can “react badly under pressure” but “has the skills and experience to make him capable of the job”. The other candidates, Terry Leblanc and Tom Young, are simply not up to the task.
Ms. Monsef at the Sales and Ad Club mayoral debate

In its opinion piece, Peterborough This Week made some interesting assumptions. The first was that a well thought out policy platform is of little relevance. Ms. Monsef has one of these, but only “on paper” (perhaps she should have hammered it together with plywood, or used a 3D printer). The second, and of greater relevance, it would seem, is a business background. There is something to that, but, in La politica’s opinion, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Bennett in particular, are unqualified for the job precisely because their own business experience is not relevant to Peterborough’s future economic needs.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mayor Bennett to push for casino during next term

Mayor Daryl Bennett made it clear during the Sales and Ad Club mayoral debate at the Holiday Inn on Tuesday, October 21, that if re-elected to office he would push for a decision on a casino in Peterborough. His specific goal is to accomplish this within his next four year mandate, and his preference is to have the casino within city limits.
Daryl Bennett at the Sales and Ad Club mayoral debate

His reasoning is simple enough. Right now, the majority of gamblers at the Kawartha Slots are from Peterborough. From a numbers perspective, then, money is leaving Peterborough and going to Cavan Monaghan Township. By having the casino in Peterborough’s city limits, the municipality would keep that money – and get some revenue from outsiders as well.

Many people have opposed the casino on the grounds that gambling can be addictive, ruining lives, and that gamblers tend not to spend money outside the casino itself. Casino defenders will say that gambling is legal, and already nearby, while the money that would be going into the casino’s coffers would never have been intended for surrounding businesses, anyway.

Friday, 17 October 2014

An assessment of Mayor Daryl Bennett - and his chances

Daryl Bennett was elected to mayor of Peterborough in 2010. He received, 14, 061 votes, almost 59% of all votes cast. The incumbent, Paul Ayotte, received 9,990 votes, over 41% of the total. There were no other candidates. This time around the citizens of Peterborough have more choice. Mr. Bennett is back up for re-election, with Maryam Monsef, Alan Wilson, Patti Peeters, Terry LeBlanc, and Tom Young also in the race.

Below is a brief assessment of the mayor – and his chances.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Good vibrations: an assessment of Northcrest Ward candidates for Peterborough City Council

This is a simple, tongue-and-cheek assessment of the five Northcrest Ward candidates for the October 27 election to city council in Peterborough, Ontario. La politica has also done assessments, posted separately, for Monaghan Ward, Town Ward, Otonabee Ward, and Ashburnham Ward. Each post has the same introductory paragraphs provided below. So...you can skip those if you are clicking around.

Intro to the assessments

The ward assessments rely on two scores out of five for a combined score out of ten. The first score is based on a candidate’s vibe, with the second score assessing the stuff and things (stuff n’ things) that the candidate proposes for Peterborough. The vibe scoring is purely subjective, and the score for stuff n’ things doesn’t necessarily take a stand on issues (i.e. parkway, taxation), but simply attempts to assess whether the candidate has material proposals, or is campaigning on vague promises and areas of interest.

The total score out of 10 does not provide a breakdown of the category scores out of five, because stuff n’ things can have vibe, too, and some vibe is so off the charts it might even be called a vibe economy, with material effects on stuff n’ things.

You are confused, but not for long. At the end of the Ward summary we provide an assessment of who we think might win, and why. Remember: you get two votes, as there are two council seats for each ward.

Northcrest Ward

Northcrest Ward (also known as “Ward 5”) is Peterborough’s orphan ward in the north end, yet it is an area that is expected to see significant growth in the years to come. It has the most to gain or lose in the parkway debate, and has a significant voting block – 9,880 votes were cast in Northcrest in 2010 – yet it receives little coverage. The ward extends north of Parkhill, from Jackson Park and up along the northwestern edge of the Otonabee river. It is largely residential, though it includes the Chemong Road shopping strip. In 2010, Andrew Beamer took the first seat, with 3,201 votes (over 34%), and Bob Hall the second with 2,478 votes (just over 25%). Mr. Hall is not running this time around: he is instead throwing his hat in the ring for the federal Liberal nomination.

Good vibrations: an assessment of Ashburnham Ward candidates for Peterborough City Council

This is a simple, tongue-and-cheek assessment of the five Ashburnham Ward candidates for the October 27 election to city council in Peterborough, Ontario. La politica has also done assessments, posted separately, for Monaghan Ward, Town Ward, OtonabeeWard, and Northcrest Ward. Each post has the same introductory paragraphs provided below. So...you can skip those if you are clicking around.
Ashburnham Ward (Ward 4)

Intro to the assessments

The ward assessments rely on two scores out of five for a combined score out of ten. The first score is based on a candidate’s vibe, with the second score assessing the stuff and things (stuff n’ things) that the candidate proposes for Peterborough. The vibe scoring is purely subjective, and the score for stuff n’ things doesn’t necessarily take a stand on issues (i.e. parkway, taxation), but simply attempts to assess whether the candidate has material proposals, or is campaigning on vague promises and areas of interest.

The total score out of 10 does not provide a breakdown of the category scores out of five, because stuff n’ things can have vibe, too, and some vibe is so off the charts it might even be called a vibe economy, with material effects on stuff n’ things.

You are confused, but not for long. At the end of the Ward summary we provide an assessment of who we think might win, and why. Remember: you get two votes, as there are two council seats for each ward.

Ashburnham

Ashburnham Ward (also known as “Ward 4”) is unusual: it covers the entire length of the city on the eastern shore of the Otonabee River. In 2010, 9,126 people cast their votes.  Incumbent Len Vass took over 29% of the vote, with 2,662 ballots cast, followed by newcomer Keith Riel, with 2,102 votes, or 23%. This time around Mr. Vass and Mr. Riel are back for re-election, and are facing challenges from Donald Fraser, Paul Teleki, and Gary Baldwin.

Good vibrations: an assessment of Town Ward candidates for Peterborough City Council

This is a simple, tongue-and-cheek assessment of the five Town Ward candidates for the October 27 election to city council in Peterborough, Ontario. La politica has also done assessments, posted separately, for Monaghan Ward, Town Ward, Ashburnham Ward, and Northcrest Ward. Each post has the same introductory paragraphs provided below. So...you can skip those if you are clicking around.

Intro to the assessments

The ward assessments rely on two scores out of five for a combined score out of ten. The first score is based on a candidate’s vibe, with the second score assessing the stuff and things (stuff n’ things) that the candidate proposes for Peterborough. The vibe scoring is purely subjective, and the score for stuff n’ things doesn’t necessarily take a stand on issues (i.e. parkway, taxation), but simply attempts to assess whether the candidate has material proposals, or is campaigning on vague promises and areas of interest.

The total score out of ten does not provide a breakdown of the category scores out of five, because stuff n’ things can have vibe, too, and some vibe is so off the charts it might even be called a vibe economy, with material effects on stuff n’ things.

You are confused, but not for long. At the end of the ward summary we provide an assessment of who we think might win, and why. Remember: you get two votes, as there are two council seats for each ward.

Town Ward

Town Ward (also known as “Ward 3”) is downtown Peterborough. It represents one third of the city’s entire tax base. Historically, it also has the smallest voter turnout – there were only 5,032 votes cast in Town Ward in 2010. This is a ward that punches above its weight. Every vote counts. In 2010 Dean Pappas was re-elected with 2,106 votes, over 46% of the total votes cast. Bill Juby was also re-elected, coming in second with 1,273 votes (25%), narrowly winning over third place finisher, retired school teacher Tim Rowat. This time around Pappas and Juby have thrown their hats back in the ring, but are facing stiff challenges from a strong field of newcomers that includes Diane Therrien, Jason Stabler, and Jim Hendry.

Good vibrations: an assessment of Monaghan Ward candidates for Peterborough City Council

This is a simple, tongue-and-cheek assessment of the five Monaghan Ward candidates for the October 27 election to city council in Peterborough, Ontario. La politica has also done assessments, posted separately, for Otonabee Ward, Town Ward, Ashburnham Ward, and Northcrest Ward. Each post has the same introductory paragraphs provided below. So...you can skip those if you are clicking around.

Intro to the assessments

The ward assessments rely on two scores out of five for a combined score out of ten. The first score is based on a candidate’s vibe, with the second score assessing the stuff and things (stuff n’ things) that the candidate proposes for Peterborough. The vibe scoring is purely subjective, and the score for stuff n’ things doesn’t necessarily take a stand on issues (i.e. parkway, taxation), but simply attempts to assess whether the candidate has material proposals, or is campaigning on vague promises and areas of interest.

The total score out of ten does not provide a breakdown of the category scores out of five, because stuff n’ things can have vibe, too, and some vibe is so off the charts it might even be called a vibe economy, with material effects on stuff n’ things.

You are confused, but not for long. At the end of the Ward summary we provide an assessment of who we think might win, and why. Remember: you get two votes, as there are two council seats for each ward.

Monaghan Ward

Monaghan Ward (also known as “Ward 2”) is the central west district of Peterborough. In the 2010 election Henry Clarke walked with 4,077 of the 12,712 votes cast, with over 32% of the electorate favoring him. Local legend and former mayor Jack Doris took second place with 3,520 votes, almost 28%. However, Doris has announced he is retiring from politics, which leaves only one incumbent in the race for Monaghan Ward’s two seats. The other candidates this time are Don Vassiliadis, Jocasta Boone, Jeff Westlake, and David Edgerton.

Good vibrations: an assessment of Otonabee Ward candidates for Peterborough City Council

This is a simple, tongue-and-cheek assessment of the four Otonabee Ward candidates for the October 27 election to city council in Peterborough, Ontario. La politica has also done assessments, posted separately, for Monaghan Ward, Town Ward, Ashburnham Ward, and Northcrest Ward. Each post has the same introductory paragraphs provided below. So...you can skip those if you are clicking around.

Intro to the assessments

The Ward assessments rely on two scores out of five for a combined score out of ten. The first score is based on a candidate’s vibe, with the second score assessing the stuff and things (stuff n’ things) that the candidate proposes for Peterborough. The vibe scoring is purely subjective, and the score for stuff n’ things doesn’t necessarily take a stand on issues (i.e. parkway, taxation), but simply attempts to assess whether the candidate has material proposals, or is campaigning on vague promises and areas of interest.

The total score out of ten does not provide a breakdown of the category scores out of five, because stuff n’ things can have vibe, too, and some vibe is so off the charts it might even be called a vibe economy, with material effects on stuff n’ things.

You are confused, but not for long. At the end of the ward summary we provide an assessment of who we think might win, and why. Remember: you get two votes, as there are two council seats for each ward.

Otonabee Ward

Otonabee Ward (also “Ward 1”) is in Peterborough’s central south district. In the last election in 2010, 8,280 votes were cast. At that time newcomer Lesley Parnell won with 2,994 votes, about 36% of the total. Dan McWilliams garnered 2,514 votes, or about 30% of all votes, to take the second seat. Both incumbents are running again, and are facing challenges from newcomers Kim Zippel and Stephen Morgan. Camille Parent was running, but has dropped out due to illness.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Dean Del Mastro’s death by a thousand cuts

Dean Del Mastro, MP for Peterborough, took the stand again today during a trial in which he and the former agent for his 2008 campaign, Richard McCarthy, are charged with overspending and then covering up the misdeed. Central to the Crown’s case is a $21,000 personal cheque paid by Del Mastro to Holinshed, a now-defunct Ottawa-based polling firm.
 
Defence counsel does not look worried
The day started with Tom Lemon, counsel for the Crown, showing Del Mastro spreadsheets of potential voters sent to him by Holinshed. Lemon tried to pin down Del Mastro to indicate that this was evidence of voter ID on the part of Holinshed, and not simply for getting out the vote on election day.

“I’ve been on a lot of campaigns, Mr. Lemon,” said Del Mastro. “That entire list would have been for contacts on election day...Your assumption is totally incorrect.”

As in previous examination by Lemon, Del Mastro proved himself to be a skilled navigator of court proceedings. Clearly knowledgeable of election processes, at times Del Mastro appeared to out-match Lemon.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Perjury a near certainty at Del Mastro trial

At the Dean Del Mastro trial someone is almost certainly lying. And those lies are real doozers.

Del Mastro took the stand again today in his defence against charges that he and his former electoral agent, Richard McCarthy, overspent on Del Mastro’s 2008 campaign. Central to the Crown’s evidence is a $21,000 personal cheque: Del Mastro says it was intended for a software package not used during the writ period; the Crown says it paid for some election expenses, putting Del Mastro over both his personal and his campaign limit.
 
Outside the Simcoe St. court house
During his testimony Del Mastro categorically denied much of the alleged email correspondence with former pollster Frank Hall that has been entered as evidence in the case.

In reference to a September 14, 2008 email allegedly from Del Mastro to Frank Hall that says, “Hi, Frank, it is crucial that you call me,” Del Mastro said, “I never wrote that.”

The subject at the beginning of the email chain was “ASAP”, and was changed in the chain to “Re: quote”. Del Mastro said that ‘someone’ had deliberately amended the subject line.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Dean Del Mastro walks down memory lane: “It was hard for a 23-year-old white guy to get a job.”

We are into week three of the Dean Del Mastro trial, and have finally arrived at the moment many have been waiting for: Mr. Del Mastro, MP for Peterborough, has taken the stand in his own defence.
 
Dean Del Mastro
Under examination from his lawyer, Jeff Ayotte, Del Mastro took a walk down memory lane, explaining that he had to return to Peterborough from his studies at the University of Windsor after his father died in the winter months of 1994.

“I would have graduated that spring, but was called back,” he said. “Those were Rae Days. It was hard for a 23-year-old white guy to get a job.”

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Note to Del Mastro defence: attacking this witness was bad math

The Dean Del Mastro trial resumed on Wednesday, July 2, with the defence team firing salvos at Frank Hall, the prosecution’s star witness.
 
Del Mastro outside court in Peterborough
Wearing a dark suit and white shirt, Hall parried questions from Del Mastro’s lawyer, Jeff Ayotte, as well as Dave McFadden, counsel for Richard McCarthy, Del Mastro’s official agent for his 2008 campaign. Both McCarthy and Del Mastro are charged with overspending on the campaign, and then covering it up.

Hall, along with his brother Colin and wife Jennifer, ran the Ottawa-based polling firm Holinshed, which Del Mastro used during his 2008 election campaign.

Monday, 30 June 2014

In Mexico, Michoacán struggles for stability

Mireles in custody (Milenio)
The state of Michoacán in central-western Mexico remains in crisis.  Ongoing political instability, cartel activity, rampant corruption, armed civil defense groups, militarization...It has been a chaotic scene since 2006, when then president Felipe Calderón launched Mexico’s war on drugs in his home state. Things have gotten so bad that they have even disrupted the avocado and lime markets.

In late June, José Manuel Mireles, the former leader of the Tepalacatepec self defense group, was arrested. The charges were related to carrying military grade weapons such as AK-47s (the weapon of choice for both cartels and self defense groups), hand guns, and explosives.

Friday, 27 June 2014

“Now you’re trying to trick me”: Del Mastro trial continues with testy cross-examination

The defence got its first shot at the Crown’s star witness during the Dean Del Mastro trial on Friday, and if today’s proceedings are indicative of what’s to come, we can expect some fireworks when the trial resumes on Wednesday next week.
 
Jeff Ayotte and Dean Del Mastro
Del Mastro, the federal Member of Parliament for Peterborough, is on trial along with the official agent for his 2008 campaign, Richard McCarthy. Both men are charged with overspending during the election, and then covering it up.

In the morning the Crown concluded its examination of Frank Hall, the pollster whose firm, Holinshed, was hired by Del Mastro to help with his 2008 re-election bid. Crown Prosecutor Tom Lemon concluded by thanking his star witness, and saying that “I have never questioned a witness for this long.”

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Was Frank Hall Dean Del Mastro’s patsy?

A pattern is emerging in the Dean Del Mastro trial.

According to evidence provided by Frank Hall, who ran the now defunct Ottawa polling firm Holinshed, for almost a year he was strung along by Dean Del Mastro, the Peterborough MP accused of overspending on his 2008 campaign, and then covering it up. 
Frank Hall on the stand

Hall backdated numerous invoices in the hopes of getting additional business from both Del Mastro’s Peterborough riding association and his parliamentary office.

However, once Del Mastro was in possession of a timeline that put him in the clear of any appearance of wrongdoing, and after Hall and his brother Colin raised red flags on suspicious Election Canada reporting and unpaid invoices, the relationship was abruptly terminated.

On August 28, 2008, Dean Del Mastro sent a scathing email to Frank Hall. In it, he asserted that he “has a job to do,” and that Hall’s invoices didn’t correspond to what had been agreed to in conversation. He further asserted that he was “sick of this entire saga,” though he concluded that that they could “discuss compensation for costs, and hopefully this can end amicably.”

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Crown tightens evidence chain around Del Mastro

The trial of Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro and his official agent during the 2008 campaign, Richard McCarthy, continued on Wednesday. Former pollster Frank Hall was on the stand the entire day, with crown prosecutor Tom Lemon building an evidence trail littered with alleged backdated quotes, invoices, and cheques.

(For updates scroll to bottom of story.)

It's a lot of money
“In my experience, the rules for election spending have nothing to do with a date on an invoice,” testified Hall. “It is for when it is used”.

In this instance the ‘it’ being referenced by Hall represents the services and products offered by his now-defunct Ottawa-based polling firm, Holinshed.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Documents decision a setback for Del Mastro

Crown prosecutor Tom Lemon
At the beginning of court proceedings on Tuesday, June 24, the legal team defending Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro and the official agent for his 2008 campaign, Richard McCarthy, was dealt a legal setback.

Judge Lisa Cameron had adjourned early on Monday as it had become impossible for the trial to proceed without having her rule on the admissibility of printouts of electronic documents. These are documents used by the crown that may or may not be entered as evidence, but that the prosecution wants to reference when examining its key witness, pollster Frank Hall.

“Yesterday was a good day for us,” Del Mastro’s lawyer, Jeff Ayotte, told La politica before proceedings began on Tuesday. “But in a trial of this length I have learned not to judge on the basis of one day.”

His comments proved prescient. Upon opening the proceedings Judge Cameron ruled that the Canada Evidence Act allowed for documents to be referenced if the creator of those documents was present and testifying under oath.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Defence and crown battle over evidence admissibility on first day of Del Mastro trial

The Dean Del Mastro trial opened Monday in a courthouse in Peterborough, Ontario, with crown prosecutor Tom Lemon and defence attorney Jeffery Ayotte embarking on a day-long sparring match over the admissibility of electronic evidence.

Dean Del Mastro in court
In the end, Justice Lisa Cameron decided to adjourn early and make a ruling in the morning.

Del Mastro, the federal Member of Parliament for Peterborough, and Richard McCarthy, the official agent on Del Mastro’s 2008 election campaign, are charged with overspending during the campaign and then covering up the alleged misdeed.

In his opening statements Mr. Lemon asserted that the crown would prove that Mr. Del Mastro backdated a cheque for $21,000 to Holinshed, a polling company owned by Frank Hall, to make it look like it was written in August when it was written in October. The crown further claimed that evidence from the RCMP would prove that Del Mastro did not have the resources in his account in August.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

With fourth murder of 2014, time to leave Chapala

On Thursday, February 27, 2014 La politica published a piece titled, With recent murders in Jocotepec and Ajijic, Chapala may no longer be“safe”.

Now, just over two months later, an elderly American has been killed in Chapala. This means that in the first four months of 2014 four foreigners have been killed in three incidents.

Chapala's finest
This most recent murder reportedly occurred on Friday, April 20. Raymond Margolis Levi, 90 (some reports say 88), later died after two men broke into his home, only a few blocks from city hall. The elderly man was beaten about the head, as was his wife, a teacher in a local primary school, in what appeared to be an attempted robbery. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Chinese mine raises furor in Sinaloa, Mexico

A banner demanding justice from the governor
Twelve people from the small community of El Potrero de Cancio in the municipality of Choix, in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, remain in jail despite a ruling demanding their release. The villagers were detained in September, 2013, after protesting against an iron mining company named Paradox Global Resources S.A. de C.V., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chinese industrial conglomerate Rizhao Xingye Import & Export Co.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Mazatlán’s carnival marred by shooting in Plazuela Machado

One of the Machado's open air restaurants
The annual carnival in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, is billed as the third biggest party after Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. Every year tens of thousands of revellers gather in the Pacific resort for five days of music and fun.

This year was no different, with stages lined from Olas Altas to Playa Norte. Other than the usual arrests for petty crime and public intoxication, everything was going well until early in the morning of Tuesday, March 4, when a brawl broke out at the corner of Sixto Osuna and Heriberto Frias in the Plazuela Machado in the city’s historic centre.  During the fight a young woman was shot three times and killed.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

With recent murders in Jocotepec and Ajijic, Chapala may no longer be “safe”

An American named John Paul Abeel, 67, was found dead in Jocotepec on the western shores of Lake Chapala on Thursday, February 20. Mexican authorities are treating the death as a homicide – he was found strangled, with one of his arms severed – and three arrests have been made. This comes after the murder of a Canadian couple in nearby Ajijic, also on the shores of Chapala, earlier this month, and the murder of the American Bentley Main, who was stabbed to death in Chapala in March, 2013.
 
Chapala's tranquil shores
It is stories like these that have most expats who live or stay for extended periods of time in Mexico spending a lot of time answering a single question from friends and family back home: is Mexico “safe”.

In asking the question, there is an assumption that we all know what the word means, and that we share the same definition and risk tolerance (usually falling within a range that would be acceptable at home). Not so. There is also an assumption that we assess risk more-or-less objectively. Also not so.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Arrest of El Chapo Guzman is big news in Mazatlán

The Miramar
El Chapo Guzman, head of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, was captured yesterday at a hotel in the tourist town of Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Local reports are that the arrest went peacefully, without the violent gun battles that have been the hallmark of other takedowns.

El Chapo was arrested at the Miramar on the Malecón, which rents out condos.  Much of the tourist development in that part of Mazatlan is rumoured to be financed, at least in part, by the Sinaloa cartel. Particularly north of the Golden Zone, in the Marina area, many of the newer hotel/condo complexes are only partially occupied, with cartel interests suspected of building them in order to launder money and plan for the long haul.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Canadian couple murdered in Ajijic, Mexico

Nina Discombe
Police in Ajijic, Jalisco, on the shores of Lake Chapala and about 45 minutes outside of Guadalajara, have found the bodies of a retired Canadian couple. The two were allegedly victims of an assault, the motive being robbery.

Ajijic and neighbouring Chapala are home to thousands of expat Canadian and Americans, drawn to the area because of its beautiful climate and, up until recently, its tranquility.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Embassy suspends visits to Canadian jailed in Mexico

A Mexican jail
An unclassified letter dated November 15, 2013, and obtained by La politica, has confirmed what Bruce Vigfusson, a Canadian currently serving a four-and-a-half year sentence in a Mexican jail for assault, has been saying for some time: in-person visits from Canadian embassy personnel have been suspended due to Mr. Vigfusson’s “verbally aggressive” behaviour toward a consular officer.